REVIEWS! Chris LeRoy's Five Essential Halloween Films

My Five Essential Halloween Films


My Five Essential Halloween Films I am a horror wimp. I avoid gore. However, I get out all my “scary” movies every Halloween and relive my childhood. Here are five that stand out for me this season…. Chris LeRoy

1. (1935) Bride of Frankenstein: Director James Whale’s masterpiece is the Frankenstein franchise peak. Brimming with creative energy, it is also the best of the Universal monster movies. Ernest Thesiger’s Doctor Pretorius is the quirky centerpiece and embodies the renegade spirit of the director. Karloff plays The Monster for empathy; he is hunted and misunderstood. You don’t fear him. You lament his tragic fate. If you become a Whale fan, track down his much less known, The Old Dark House.

2. (1939) The Cat and The Canary: From the stage play and 1927 silent film, Bob Hope teams with Paulette Goddard for night in a haunted mansion with a greedy group of relatives and a crazy cat-like killer. Funny,and spooky, it abounds in secret passages and great chemistry. It is the precursor to the other great Hope/Goddard comedy chiller set in Cuba, 1940’s The Ghost Breakers.

EttingtonParkHotel - The Haunting
3. (1963) The Haunting: A year after West Side Story Director Robert Wise delivers the perfect adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic “The Haunting of Hill House.” This is the classic evil house film, a reminder that a great horror film does not need blood to do its job. Russ Tamblyn adds the humor but Julie Harris is transcendent as the sad romantic with supernatural powers and a pipeline to the dark secrets of Hill House.

4. (1966) It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: As sure as Charlie Brown will miss that football I need to watch this timeless special to find the Halloween spirit. I marvel at its colors, its cheesy effects, its odd inclusion of Snoopy’s downed WWI flying ace shtick, and its moody flute sound track. Most of all, I keep coming back for Linus’ belief in The Great Pumpkin. His grand delusion is what is great about being a kid: you really believe. We keep coming back to watch every year to remember that we were kids who once believed.

5. (1922) Nosferatu: F.W. Murnau’s silent classic is based on the Dracula novel. The filmmaker sued by the Stoker family estate Nosferatu was to be destroyed. Thank goodness German law did not enforce the destruction because Max Schreck as Count Orlok embodies the cruelty and creepiness of the novel. As much as I enjoy Bella Lugosi, this is not your elegant, socialite vampire. Orlok is deadly and relentless in his pursuit of the young real estate agent’s wife. Her personal sacrifice to Orlok to save her husband carries a simple power that the more complex Dracula movies miss. This is real human sacrifice. Never mind that it is silent, the film moves like heavy steps up the stairs of your subconscious.

— CL

3 comments to REVIEWS! Chris LeRoy’s Five Essential Halloween Films

  • Linus sure has a lot of faith.

  • Trixie Martha

    Mr. Chris! The movie that scares the bejeezus outta me is Phantasm. Carrie is a good one, too. I’m now partial to Mr. Rob Zombie’s horror movies. I also liked the Grindhouse series. Pretty gory for y’all, though. A real scary thriller is also The Shining. But it’s not very Halloween-y. XO Trixie

  • Chris LeRoy

    Trixie… all those great horror films scare me so!

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